Going Old School on the Russians

Over the years, Ihor Tokarivsky has built a successful business by putting up mobile telephone towers across Ukraine. His company makes steel parts for the towers, assembles them, and finally adds electronic components.

Lviv locals making ‘Czech hedgehogs’ to scupper Russian tanks. Image credit: Twitter @lealolivas

You may have seen ‘Czech hedgehogs’ similar to the one above used on the beaches of Normandy in the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan. They are quite effective in keeping light to medium tanks and vehicles from penetrating lines of defense. Each one takes 10 minutes to produce.

With so many Russian tanks and other heavy vehicles in the area, the need is certainly there.

They also make caltrops in a smaller size which is perfect for puncturing tires. Image credit: Askold Krushelnycky

The caltrops shown above are area denial weapons that have been used in battle since ancient times. For example, Alexander the Great employed them to beat the Persians at the Battle of Issus over two millennia ago. They were initially intended to stop horses and war chariots during calvary charges. Today, they serve to puncture tires and soldiers’ boots.

Citizens Fight Back

Methods of urban defense and insurgency are limited only by one’s imagination and level of creativity. The citizens of Ukraine are using the materials they have on hand to fight back and resist the invasion of their nation. Some companies have started making camouflage netting for the military. Others have turned into Molotov cocktail factories.

John Spencer is one of the world’s leading scholars and experts in the field of urban warfare. He’s been sharing his tactical knowledge with the Ukrainians online and through interviews. You can download the PDF of his “Mini-Manual for the Urban Defender” here. It’s jam-packed with great ideas on surviving and resisting an attack on an urban environment.

Spencer’s ideas include parking cars and buses in the middle of main roadways and breaking off the keys in the ignition (and removing their batteries) to disable them. This will serve to slow the oncoming forces a bit when practiced in large enough numbers.

Ukrainian civilians pressed into this fight are using what they have on hand and getting creative as they go.

Not sure this would be my first choice for protection, but it shows ingenuity. Image source: sickchirpse.com

Pravda, the Microbrewery

Trendy Ukrainian microbrewery, Pravda, switched (mostly) from making tasty craft brews to destructive Molotov cocktails. They began churning these out from their Lviv business the day after Russia invaded.

Instead of barley and hops, they are now using a mixture of six parts machine oil, three parts gasoline, four parts expanded polystyrene dissolved in a solvent called thinner 646, and a sprinkling of powdered aluminum. NOTE: Don’t try this at home. Seriously, don’t do it.

The resulting concoction is soupy, sticky, and burns like the devil. After running out of their own bottles, Yuri Zastavny, Pravda’s owner, joked that they had to resort to filling bottles of “lesser” American and Mexican beers (names redacted).

A line of homemade caltrops and victory beer protect the Lviv brewery. Image courtesy of wbur.org

The Ukrainian government banned the sale of alcohol shortly after the beginning of the war, and this was when Pravda began brewing their “victory beer” by the time it was done, in 5 or 6 weeks, they hoped the fighting would be over, and everyone could celebrate with a cold brew. We’ve come to that point in time, and unfortunately, hostilities are nowhere near done. Fortunately, however, the ban ended on April first.

If you are a homebrewer, you might find this interesting; Pravda has added links to the recipes of all of their brews online. They even provide links so you can print up your own labels. Pretty damn cool.

Label for Kyiv Doppelbock, 8% alcohol by volume. Image courtesy of Prava brewing

It’s not all about the beer, however. The Prava website provides information on how you can donate to help the cause of the Ukrainian people.

They wax philosophical on their site, saying to their customers:

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“But brewing now – like giving birth or a marriage – is hope.”

The site goes on to read:

“As peaceful craft brewers, we want to return to the normal life asap and enjoy brewing and drinking. But first we must kick the cockroaches out of our land. No more Gulags, Holodomors and oppression. It’s a decisive moment for Ukraine, Europe and democracies of the world.”

They have the right mindset for victory: De Oppresso Liber!